(2005) dir. Fabián Bielinsky
In doing my meager web research that I do to verify any facts that I try to site or background information about the films of which I write, I discovered a sad, poignant fact, that writer/director Fabián Bielinsky died of a heart attack while promoting this film in Brazil and so, this film is the last one that he ever made. I had seen an earlier film of his, Nine Queens (2000), which was a clever and interesting film about con-men on the streets of Buenos Aires. It has stuck in my mind these years, and they adapted it in Hollywood in 2004 as Criminal which I hadn’t seen, but gave some credence to the possibility of him growing in recognition.
And as it turns out, The Aura, is an equally, if not more, interesting film. I actually tried to tell someone the storyline and realized that it’s pretty complicated to explain and I won’t go into it too deeply for that reason and also because of the surprising plots twists or events that have more power because they are unexpected.
The film starts out with the protagonist, an epileptic taxidermist who fantasizes about leading efficient large scale robberies, is talked into going on a hunting trip in Patagonia, despite the fact that he does not want to kill anything. His wife has left him and he moves into this space of acting and speaking upon his impulses. That said, the movie is slow and paced, so his actions though impulsive, have a measured step to them nonetheless, showing a commitment to the actions and the choices though they are clearly outside of his normal sphere.
There is a sense of metaphysical or existential experience, yet one that strikes back into reality. It’s hard to say how much of this is signified by the gorgeous forests and hills of Patagonia. As a taxidermist, his relationship to nature and animals is detached yet intimate. They are skeletons and frames, coats of fur, neatly sewn and made to look alive. As he ventures into the world where life and death are taken, closing in to experiences with living animals, the opportunity to live his fantasies, his world is transformed. How much this is an analysis of Argentinian life or how unspecific that is, I cannot say, but it is does register and resonate.
It’s a true tragedy that such a fine writer/director passed away with so little a body of work that shows such promise and such a sensitive eye. Such is life, and somehow, this film might have some appropriate context for Bielinsky’s sense of life, death, and experience.